Morticai's Luck

Free Morticai's Luck by Darlene Bolesny

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Authors: Darlene Bolesny
he’d made a game of using such rats for knife practice. Once, one had run off with his best throwing knife embedded in it.
    He traveled another block north before Ellenwood turned left.
    “Pssst.”
    Morticai jumped and swung leftward, dagger ready, his hand to his sword hilt.
    “Gettin’ jumpy in your old age, Dyluth?” The question was spoken in corryn.
    Morticai relaxed.
    “That’s a good way to get cut, Calsen,” he replied, also speaking in corryn.
    The man standing in the doorway laughed softly. A human would have seen only a shadowy form standing in the darkness, but Morticai’s eyes could still make out most of Calsen’s features. Calsen’s shoulder-length black hair was pulled back, but the shadow cast by his tattered, wide-brimmed black hat effectively hid his corryn ears.
    “Come on,” Morticai said as he re-sheathed his dagger and ran down the street to catch Ellenwood. Calsen followed. Another stray cat dashed madly out of their way.
    “What’cha doin’ here? I haven’t seen you on this side of town in years.”
    “I’m following someone.”
    “No wonder you’re in a hurry. Anyone I know?”
    “I doubt it. He’s a nobleman.”
    “What? A nob, here? ”
    “Yep.”
    “Good gods, is he insane?”
    “Shhh! There he is—slow down.”
    Ellenwood had already passed several side alleys, but he continued to follow the ‘main’ alley as it bent rightward. A figure ducked back into a nearby doorway and was gone by the time the two corryn passed the same door.
    “I followed him to the Cobblesend one night,” Morticai said. “He doesn’t seem to have any problems. Have you seen him before?”
    “No. Decent disguise. He ought to change his shoes, though”
    Morticai laughed. “You’re not the first to make that observation.”
    “No one bothers him? That’s odd. But he certainly seems to know where he’s going.”
    “So I’ve noticed.”
    Ellenwood had turned off into a side passage and was negotiating a series of jogs in the tangled web of alleys.
    “Someone hire you to follow him?”
    “Yeah, his last mistress,” Morticai lied.
    “Good money in that?”
    “You’d have to ask her.”
    “Nice t’see you haven’t changed,” Calsen said, chuckling. “You still in the Northmarch?”
    “Yeah. How about you?”
    “Oh, a little of this, a little of that. I’ve been workin’ the docks kinda regular, here of late.”
    “Really? That’s good to hear.”
    “You still tryin’ to talk all your old friends into honest jobs, uh?”
    “No, I gave up. Of course, a lot of them have died.”
    The faint sound of singing drifted toward them, but the echoes from the old stone walls made it impossible to tell where it came from. The cobblestones became scarce as the deteriorating pavement quickly turned into dirt.
    “Yeah, I know,” Calsen admitted. “That’s why I’m workin’ the docks now. It’s safer. How come you never come around anymore?”
    “Most of the time the Northmarch has me. I get off three days out of ten. As you’ve mentioned, this isn’t the safest side of town. After seven days of duty I’d rather have three days when I don’t have to worry about whether my sword is in reach.”
    “Like now,” Calsen said with a smirk. “You ever see Heather?”
    “Oh, yeah. She still gets me invitations to some of the better parties.”
    “She still Lord Ullock’s mistress?”
    “No, she’s with Lord Jendall now.”
    Calsen studied Morticai closely. “That’s too bad. I always thought, y’know, you two would maybe get matched.”
    Morticai shrugged. His long running, on-again-off-again affair with the silver-tressed corryn courtesan had become an item of common gossip among his old friends. He’d long tired of their meddling attempts to keep them together.
    “I don’t know that we were ever meant to match,” he answered slowly. “It’s true that in some ways we match, but in those ways … we’re almost too much alike. And in other ways, we’re too

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